Overtourism occurs when the balance between the negatives of tourism outweighs the benefits.
Large numbers of tourists can upset the local residents, especially if they do not feel the positives created by a tourism boom. As popularity rises so does the cost of accommodations. Furthermore, the noise disrupts normal life, and places are trampled by high numbers of visitors.
So why has this occurred all in the summer of 2017? Well, the signs have been there for a while and in places as high as Everest and as far East as the great wall of China. But, this summer the conditions have been just about perfect for the overtourism plague to hit Europe.
Here are ten conditions which have led to this epidemic.
1, Simply put, it’s the summer holiday season, a lot of people travel to Europe at this time of year.
2, Tourism numbers are growing. Tourists arrivals from China and India are helping stoke this steady rise.
3, How tourism success is measured. A countries tourism success rate has always been measured in the number of arrivals rather than local employment or the amount of money generated by tourism. This is the measurement of choice due to the ease of data collection, but importantly it doesn’t tell you how well the locals are benefiting from these arrivals.
4, National holidays; when a country like China has a national holiday, a mass exodus often follows. If a holiday coincides with an international holiday and with a country like the USA, who have very limited holiday allowances, squeezed into only a few popular destinations, then you have a problem.
5, Limited popular destinations. There is not an unlimited supply of popular spots, views, historical sites, and beaches. Tourists all want to go to the same places.
6, Marketing. Probably the main cause for a perceived limited destination choice. When a tourist spot becomes fashionable and the popularity rises most tourism companies jump on the band wagon and market this destination heavily. Cuba saw a huge rise in tourism numbers as visa restrictions were relaxed, causing many problems for locals. Although, this condition is also often related to the destinations marketing strategy.
7, Dangerous destinations and travel advice. When a popular country becomes a ‘no go zone’ e.g Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia, a funnelling effect is formed and a steady stream of tourists flow into an already limited destination selection.
8, Accessibility; holiday booking, flights, connections, have all become a lot easier and cheaper. Furthermore, tourism has been called the biggest free loader, many of these destinations are free.
9, Tourisms biggest and ugliest behemoth, the giant cruise ship. These ships land at just a few beach side destinations and unload thousands of tourists all at one time. Venice has been suffering for a long time and the Venetians unofficial voted to ban them this year.
10, Destinations natural capacity; when there is no route for visitor overflow. This is often experienced in historic sites like Venice and islands. These conditions, although are the cause, can help create an antidote to overtourism.
Firstly, it’s time more responsible tourism practices are employed to ensure the local population sees the positives of tourism.
But, a drastic change in how tourism success is measured is essential, the restriction of giant cruise ships, strong marketing of alternative destinations and restrictions/charges to popular areas can all be used to stem the spread of overtourism.